Jimma AbbA Jifar: An Oromo Monarchy: Ethiopia 1830-1932by Herbert S. Lewis
The Kingdom of Jimmar Abba Jifar, established about 1830, was the largest and most powerful of five monarchies formed by the Oromo in the Gibe region of southwestern Ethiopia. Although the Oromo are known for their democratic ("republican") gada system, Jimma and the other Gibe states arose through a series of processes and historical events in the 19th century that propelled certain men into positions of supreme power. The book, based primarily on intensive fieldwork in Jimma, presents a study of the history and organization of Jimma under its most powerful ruler, Abba Jifar II (1878-1932). The author stresses the dynamic aspects of politics and places the political history and structure of Jimma in comparative perspective, noting similarities and differences in processes and structures to monarchical systems elsewhere in Africa and the world.
In addition to its historical dimension, this book also presents an ethnographic study of an Oromo Muslim agricultural community. The author points to distinctive aspects of Oromo culture that seem to have given Jimma Abba Jifar its particular political style. This book was one of the first published professional anthropological works about the Oromo. Professor Lewis's effective use of the sociological principles of Max Weber has enabled him to put the kingdom of Jimma Abba Jifar in a frame of reference which will make it comprehensible and readily comparable with other monarchic states. For this reason, and because of the unique institutional structure of the Oromo kingdom, the book will be of interest to social scientists in general, as well as to African anthropologists and historians.
- Red Sea Press, Inc., The
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